As we've learned, beauty comes from within, literally!
What are some of the main components of a diet that is capable of combating skin aging?
Three of the main components to include in an anti-aging diet are foods rich in vitamin C, adequate protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and carotenoids.
We'll begin with a nutrient that has shown the strongest evidence of a connection with prevention of wrinkled skin - vitamin C! Vitamin C is an antioxidant (which we previously learned can combat the skin damaging effects of free radicals!). Vitamin C also plays a vital role in the formation of collagen - it activates enzymes involved in the formation of collagen.1
Interestingly, the 2007 study mentioned in our previous article showed that the link between vitamin C and wrinkle prevention was evident regardless of sunlight exposure. That is not to say that vitamin C intake is a guaranteed protection against damage from the sun's rays. It has been shown to be able to protect against sun damage to some degree, though. 1
Vitamin C powerhouses include citrus fruits, chili pepper, parsley, blackcurrant, rose hip, guava, red and green peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and kiwis. 2
Don't Skimp on Protein
Here at EnergyFirst we talk a lot about the importance of high quality protein, especially for maintaining lean body mass. Protein also provides your skin with the building blocks it needs to stay firm and elastic.
Collagen and elastin, the main structural components that give skin its firm texture and elasticity, are proteins. The previously mentioned 2007 study found that women with a wrinkled appearance had a significantly lower intake of protein. 1 Unfortunately, the body's ability to regenerate collagen declines with time. Therefore, getting an adequate supply of the necessary building blocks for collagen is a must the more years we put on.
The amino acids that are essential for their production include glycine, proline, and lycine, which can be found in many high-protein foods (eggs, meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds).
Make sure to always include a protein source with each meal and snack. When choosing convenient meal replacement bars, aim for at least 20-25 grams of protein per bar, such as in the EnergyFirst chocolate and peanut butter Permalean bars. Another easy way to sneak high-quality protein into your day is using a whey protein isolate powder for smoothies or shakes.
Omega-3's for Firmer Skin
These essential fatty acids help protect the skin from UV damage and premature aging because of their anti-inflammatory properties. UV rays trigger an inflammatory response that releases enzymes from skin cells that cause physical damage to collagen. 3
Great sources of omega-3 include cold water fish (such as salmon, cod, albacore or bluefin tuba, lake trout, mackerel, atlantic sturgeon, sardines, anchovies, or halibut) and plant sources (flaxseeds, chia seeds, wheat germ or walnuts).
Carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, protect plans by neutralizing free radicals and rendering them harmless. They can do the same for our skin!
These plant pigments are found in bright red, orange, and yellow veggies (think sweet potatoes, bell peppers, squash, or carrots) and fruits (apricots, mango, or melon). Beta-carotene is also a precursor to an important skin nutrient - vitamin A.
What other foods are worth including in your anti-aging diet plan? Look for Part 2 in next month's newsletter for top anti-wrinkle foods to swap your wrinkle creams with!
1. Cosgrove MC, Franco OH, Granger SP, Murray PG, Mayes AE. Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(4):1225-1231.
2. Schagen, S. K., Zampeli, V. A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging.
Dermato-endocrinology, 4(3), 298–307. doi:10.4161/derm.22876
3. Fisher GJ, Kang S, Varani J, et al. Mechanisms of photoaging and chronological skin aging. Arch Dermatol. 2002;138:1462-1470.